Chief of Nez Perce, Chief Joseph
I was born in Wallowa Valley. My father was the leader of my Tribe, Nez Perce, before me. He told us that we needed to become like the White Men. So we brought up their religion, Christianity. When the Gold Rush came to our territory, they took away our land until we were one tenth our original size. My father then burned his American Flag and his Bible.
Becoming the Chief
When my father died in 1871 I was chosen to succeed him. I refused to let the government move my people onto the small Idaho reservation. We wanted to stay on our sacred land of Wallawa Valley. Soon though, we were forced to move for we were threatened to be attacked.
I do not approve of Manifest Destiny because my homeland is sacred to my people and I don't want it taken away from us and given to some whites.
Unfortunately we never made it because about 20 of our young warriors were so enraged at the loss of our sacred land that they raided a nearby settlement and killed several whites. The army soon pursued us. I was very opposed to war, but It was necessary.
We fought. We fought as hard as we could. Our militia was a band of 700, less than 200 of those were warriors. But soon I was tired. I was never a war chief. I hated war. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.
Even though we surrendered, we were not allowed to go home. We were taken to Kansas and then to Oklahoma where many of my people died of epidemic diseases.
Fighting for The Rights of My People
I was angry. I took my anger to Washington D.C. where I argued our case. It wasn't until 1885 that I led my people back to the Northwest. Half of us were separated. I ended up in non-Nez Perce land in Washington. I am glad that the other half returned to our homeland.
Is America Just for All?
In my last years I went back to Washington D.C. The Native Americans had no Justice, Even though the Government said "Freedom and justice for all." I spoke about our injustice, and that maybe one day we would all really have freedom and justice.
The West Film Project. "Chief Joseph" PBS.org. n.p, n.d. Web. January 14, 2016